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Lots of cities have parks.  Probably most cities.  There are parks and then there is Park Güell in Barcelona.  It is more wonderland than park and this is where the famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’ let his imagination run wild with fantastical shapes and designs that utilized his use of nature and organic structures to build a unique garden.

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_DM37095A few weeks ago Kongo’s sister-in-law, Toni, visited from Southern California.  She had to hurry up because the treehouse in Florida is soon to be turned over to new owners and the monkeys are heading back to the West Coast themselves.  Anyway, SIL came for a pleasant two weeks to help pack boxes, get well (while depositing her cold germs on the simians), and see a couple of sights that were on her bucket list.

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Venice and gondolas go together like pasta and meatballs, pepperoni and pizza, monkeys and bananas.  You get the idea.  You can’t really have one without the other and these fascinating boats are irresistible.  It is estimated that in the 19th century there were more than 10,000 of these flat bottomed boats plying the canals of Venice.  Today there are about 500 and most of these are used to haul tourists like Kongo around.

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George Bernard Shaw called Dubrovnik “heaven on earth.”  This angelic city on the Adriatic Sea certainly lives up to this billing.  Pretty much the entire historic medieval part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its easy to see why.  It is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval cites in the world.  And HBO thinks so too as it chose this location for many of its Game of Thrones scenes in the fictional Kings Landing.

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What little girl doesn’t want to grow up to be a real life princess, marry a handsome prince,  become a movie star, and live a storybook life of popularity and luxury?  Add to that a beautiful little kingdom to rule over and be beautiful too.  Thus is the allure of Grace Kelly, the beautiful rich girl who became a movie star and married a prince.

_DM35597On Kongo’s recent European cruise he spent a day in the French province of Provence.  Wow.  Warm skies, fishing villages, vineyards, olive trees.  The tour he went on was called “Vineyards and Villages” and that’s exactly what he saw.  Above are fishing boats in the little village of Sanary-sur Mer.  Sounds French, huh?

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Just a month ago Kongo visited Tuscany and the two famous cities of Florence and Pisa.  Florence is one of those cities that just knocks your socks off.  Everywhere you are reminded of history, architecture, and the birth of the Renaissance.  There’s also the food and the wine.  Pisa has, well, that leaning tower.